Amanda Jentsch - 2023

Position title: Medicine

Pronouns: she/her

What career pathway have you pursued since your time in the UW-Madison English major?

At UW, I completed majors in English, Biology, and Anthropology, with a certificate in leadership. I was also a Writing Fellow for three years. Currently, I’m a first year medical student at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

What did you enjoy about the English major?

The classes that stick out to me are Dr. Lisa Cooper’s English 241, Dr. Amanda Shubert’s Nineteenth Century Novels class, Dr. Sarah Ensor’s English 245, and Dr. Caroline Gottschalk-Druschke’s Science Rhetoric class. Each of my English classes pushed me to think outside the box and defend my ideas. They also provided a collegiality and connection with my peers that I often didn’t have in my larger science classes, especially in the midst of the pandemic. Out of everything that came out of my undergrad career, I am proudest of the work I’ve done under the mentorship of the English department.

How did your time as an English major prepare you for your current work? What skills do humanities students bring to your industry?

I cannot emphasize how much it has helped me in my field to be able to think about a text, problem, or concept from multiple angles, and to take on different perspectives when discussing them. I also have had research mentors be specifically interested in the writing skills and creative background that I bring to the table — to the point of being asked for my senior thesis so they could see my work. Overall, I think my unique undergrad experience (since many medical students don’t come in with a background like mine) sets me up to think about the material I’m learning in a different way than those around me have been taught. I also can understand and empathize with patient histories and experiences because of the skills the English major taught me. My teaching experiences in the department also have taught me how to guide patient conversations in an open and non-judgmental way, as well as understand how to make those discussions less intimidating.

What is one piece of career advice you would offer our English undergraduates?

Know how to advocate for your skill set in meetings with mentors, potential employers, and other students. English is often underestimated as a field, but you know how valuable your abilities are, and you should be proud of the work you put in. I’m also happy to serve as a mentor for anyone exploring the sciences or medicine in particular!